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Journalism and Publishing  
 
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Sometimes publications were associated with bars, which were one of the few places where gays and lesbians could discover information about activities pertaining to their community. The practice of bar guilds publishing or facilitating give-away publications continues to this day in many areas of the country.

A marked increase in underground or alternative publications of all kinds during the 1960s, coupled with the heterosexual sexual revolution and an emerging feminism, also contributed to the creation of a climate that made possible the creation of a national gay and lesbian press.

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The Advocate and the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookstore

The watershed year for gay and lesbian publishing was 1967, when The Advocate was founded in California and the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookstore opened in New York City's Greenwich Village.

Founded by gay activist Craig Rodwell, the Oscar Wilde Bookstore was the first bookstore (and perhaps the first business that was neither sexually nor alcoholically oriented) to cater specifically to gay men and lesbians. At first, the bookstore sold only a handful of titles; the scarcity of material exacerbated by Rodwell's refusal to stock pornography.

Soon afterward, bookstores that concentrated on gay and lesbian literature opened in other cities, including San Francisco, where the Walt Whitman Bookshop thrived for many years. Today, many major cities boast at least one bookstore catering to gay and lesbian readers. These bookstores tend to be community centers as well as places of business and frequently sponsor readings and other activities.

Among the leading gay and lesbian bookstores are A Different Light in San Francisco and Los Angeles; Giovanni's Room in Philadelphia; Lambda Rising in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Md., Rehoboth Beach, Del., and Norfolk, Va.; Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto; Relatively Wilde in Denver; We Think the World of You in Boston; Outwrite Books in Atlanta; Open Door in Sacramento; and Obelisk in San Diego.

Several gay and lesbian bookstores issue catalogues and conduct mail-order business, thereby reaching readers far beyond their geographic locations. With the mainstreaming of gay and lesbian literature at the turn into the twenty-first century, almost all large chain bookstores in urban areas in most parts of the country now feature sections devoted to gay and lesbian literature, a development that has challenged the very survival of specialized gay and lesbian bookstores. Still, the specialized bookstores continue to serve an important purpose in fostering a sense of community.

When established in Los Angeles in 1967, The Advocate was a local newspaper concentrating largely on local events and issues, such as police brutality and city council elections. It soon broadened its scope, however, and became a national newsmagazine, attempting to cover news from around the country. For many years, it was by far the most influential--if sometimes controversial--journal of gay liberation.

Under the editorship of Richard Hall and others, its book review section was especially strong, frequently featuring interviews with important writers. Today, claiming a circulation in excess of 75,000 copies, The Advocate remains the gay and lesbian newsmagazine of record though its early emphasis on books has given way to a much greater emphasis on mass entertainment.

Slickly designed and executed, it stresses national and international news and features. Although for many years the only advertisers it could attract were for sexually oriented products, it now advertises a wide variety of mainstream items. It continues to publish personal and classified advertisements of an explicitly sexual nature though now they are segregated into a separate publication.

Having achieved an unprecedented level of journalistic respectability, The Advocate is now sold in shopping malls and quoted in the national media.

The Advocate's transformation from a radical, underground newspaper to a respectable, mainstream publication is itself a kind of parable of the relative success of the gay and lesbian liberation movement and, perhaps, of its cooptation by middle-class consumerism.

Gay Liberation Newspapers in the 1970s

Gay liberation newspapers proliferated throughout the continent (and abroad) in the 1970s, most of them concentrating on local news and events and featuring sexually explicit advertising and a liberationist rather than homophile editorial stance. Practically every major city in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe spawned at least one gay liberation newspaper in the 1970s.

Particularly notable because they often adopted radical or confrontational stances that countered the gradually increasing conservatism of The Advocate were Gay Community News in Boston and The Body Politic in Toronto, both of which are now defunct.

From the West Coast, Gay Sunshine, founded by Winston Leyland, combined a Berkeley-style radicalism with a passion for literature. Gay Sunshine frequently featured in-depth interviews with gay writers and spawned publication ventures such as the Manroot poetry series and Gay Sunshine Press.

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